A senior Phnom Penh police officer has hit out at the inappropriate release of
offenders by the judicial system.
"The more robbers we catch, the more
they are released from jail," said the officer, who spoke on the condition he
was not named.
The policeman cited the arrest of five men for last
November's $700,000 robbery from a bank van transporting money to Pochentong
Airport. They were recently released from custody, he said, for reasons he was
unable to understand.
"They were detained for only five months. In fact,
they should have been jailed for at least three years," he said, describing the
men as "hard-line" criminals. "There will be more robberies in the future if the
courts are so loose."
The policeman acknowledged that there was
corruption within the courts and the police force.
"Both the police and
the courts try to make profits," he said. "Some policemen release thieves in
return for money."
Phnom Penh Municipal Court president Judge Oum Sarith,
asked about the officer's complaints, referred the Post to one of his
prosecutors. The prosecutor, however, refused to comment unless he was told the
name of the policeman.
"He's talking bad about the judges, but he refuses
to identify himself. We can't give you the interview," the prosecutor
The head of the Phnom Penh Municipal Criminal Investigations Unit
was, who was in the prosecutor's office when the Post visited, also insisted he
be told the policeman's name. "Who is that guy?" he asked in a low
The policeman who spoke to the Post also complained that police
had to do their job in dangerous conditions without adequate equipment. He said
laws against the use of guns were strict, but were not enforced properly. "Now,
weapons are scattered around...and guns are sold everywhere."
donated 30 bullet proof jackets to Phnom Penh police, and France was funding
training for them, but there was a dearth of other law-enforcement equipment
such as computers to keep criminal records on.
"Police in Cambodia use
only their eyes, ears and noses," he said.